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Low personal exposure to benzene and 1,3-butadiene in the Swedish petroleum refinery industry

Journal article
Authors Pernilla Almerud
Magnus Åkerström
Eva M. Andersson
Bo Strandberg
Gerd Sällsten
Published in International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Volume 90
Issue 7
Pages 713-724
ISSN 0340-0131
Publication year 2017
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Section of Occupational and environmental medicine
Pages 713-724
Language en
Keywords Benzene, 1,3-butadiene, Exposure, Refinery workers, Limit of detection, occupational-exposure, exxonmobil refinery, baton-rouge, workers, louisiana, limits, Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
Subject categories Occupational medicine


Petroleum refinery workers are exposed to the carcinogens benzene and 1,3-butadiene. Declining exposures have been reported internationally but information on current exposure in the Swedish refinery industry is limited. The aim was to examine refinery workers' personal exposure to benzene and 1,3-butadiene and increase awareness of exposure conditions by collaboration with involved refineries. Altogether 505 repeated personal exposure measurements were performed among workers at two refineries. Full-shift measurements were conducted in different exposure groups using Perkin Elmer diffusive samplers filled with Carbopack X. Mean levels were calculated using mixed-effects models. A large fraction of measurements below the limit of detection (LOD) required imputation of computer-generated data. Mean benzene exposure among process technicians was 15.3 A mu g/m(3) (95% CI 10.4-22.5 A mu g/m(3)) and 13.7 A mu g/m(3) (95% CI 8.3-22.7 A mu g/m(3)) for Refinery 1 and 2, respectively. Process technicians working outdoors had higher exposure than maintenance workers (20.7 versus 5.9 A mu g/m(3), p < 0.01). Working in the harbour and tank park (Refinery 1), compared with the process area, was associated with higher exposure. The 1,3-butadiene exposure was low, 5.4 and 1.8 A mu g/m(3), respectively. The total variation was generally attributed to within-worker variability. Low benzene and 1,3-butadiene levels were found among refinery workers. Mean benzene exposure was about 1% of the Swedish occupational limit (1500 A mu g/m(3)) and for 1,3-butadiene, exposure was even lower. A large fraction of values below the LOD can be managed by carefully modelled, computer-generated data.

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